|Graffiti is sometimes used to communicate political and social messages. For this graffiti artist he not only communicates a message but also his life story.
People see graffiti in different ways. Some say it is defacing of public property while others call it a reflection of culture. Rich Patterson knows from experience that it is a little of both.
Rich Patterson, a Graffiti Artist explains “behind the art comes a lot of things that I’m not proud of because we had to steal the paint sometimes.”
This artist now uses a canvas rather than buildings and trains. Rich grew up in lower Manhattan where the negative inner-city lifestyle influenced his childhood. Basketball helped him get away from what he calls the Dark side.
Rich says “a drug habit, a little bit of an arrest record, really no prospects I was sort of just wasting my potential.”
Others saw his potential and gave him an opportunity to play pro ball in England. Rich travelled back and forth through the off season and began to influence kids.
“kids kept asking me what is it? I want to be just like you I didn’t think that at that time that I was the kind of person you could emulate” says Rich.
It was the questions from the children that made him realize he needed to do more.
Rich explains “Coach Rich how do I become successful? And my response to that was go to school.”
Rich got his masters degree and now teaches in North Carolina.
“Now if you can imagine the package of street credibility with this education package what I’m bringing to the table is really strong.” says Rich.
Teachers often draw from their experience. Rich’s past is as colorful as his art which will serve his students well.
Rich has been doing graffiti art since he was 18. He was commissioned by a program within the University of North Dakota to showcase his art.